TAMPA, Fla. — Brian Cashman typically takes the cautious route when it comes to injuries. The Yankees general manager was no different when discussing Luis Severino on Wednesday.
Cashman said the initial MRI taken Tuesday that showed inflammation in the righthander’s right rotator cuff left him somewhat “optimistic,” but there quickly came a qualifier.
“It’s a concerning situation until he’s on the mound for a consistent period of time to the point you forget that it ever happened,” Cashman said. “We’re a long way from that.”
Severino cut short his bullpen session before Tuesday’s scheduled start because he felt discomfort in the shoulder after throwing a slider. He is shut down for the next two weeks.
But, again, a cautionary note. “And it doesn’t even guarantee it won’t be more than two weeks,” Cashman said.
Because Tuesday was to be Severino’s first start of spring training, his clock will be reset whenever he begins his throwing program. That likely means a return by late April or early May, at best.
Aaron Boone also confirmed what was speculated on early in camp: that CC Sabathia would start the season on the injured list. The 38-year-old lefthander was brought along slowly because of offseason work on a right knee that’s been bothersome for years. He won’t be ready until probably “a couple of weeks” into the season, which means two rotation openings to start the year.
Cashman said for now the club will look internally for replacements, and that “I like a lot of the personnel we have.”
Jonathan Loaisiga, who made four starts last season and started Wednesday, is one option, as is Domingo German, who made 14 big-league starts last season. Luis Cessa also will be considered. Cessa made 19 starts over the last three seasons but is out of options and was all but certain to make the bullpen out of camp. All three are righthanders.
Sabathia threw just his second bullpen Wednesday and, once he is active, must serve the five-game suspension he received last September for intentionally hitting the Rays’ Jesus Sucre.
Though plenty of fans are clamoring for it, don’t expect Cashman to go the free-agent route, where starters Dallas Keuchel and Gio Gonzalez are available.
“What I’ve got is what I’ve got, and we’re comfortable with that,” Cashman said.
Not that there won’t be roster alterations.
“We also recognize that as the season plays out we’re going to have to add to this group regardless,” Cashman said. “More realistic additions will come after the draft [in June], but you never know. Can’t rule anything out, but I’d say the main focus is what we have.”
As for Severino, he characterized himself Wednesday morning as “a little concerned” but ultimately confident that the issue is short term.
“I feel I’m going to get better before that,” Severino said of the two weeks he’ll be shut down. “I feel a little pain when I try to lift my arm, but my strength is the same [in the shoulder]. That’s why I feel it’s nothing bad.”
Boone said from the first day of camp that Severino would start Opening Day. Masahiro Tanaka, James Paxton or J.A. Happ will take his place.
“It’s frustrating because you don’t get to play baseball,” Severino said. “This is the game that I love and I want to be there for the first game. It’s going to be tough for a little bit, but like I said, it’s better to happen now than in midseason or at the end of the season. God has a plan for everybody, so it’s better now than later.”